Reaching Compton Undermount, on the south of the island, involves driving through a stone tunnel in the village of Bonchurch. At the other end, you emerge into the prettiest of gardens in front of a very unusual property, which is part of a very much larger house built in 1851 by Sir John and Lady Pringle – of the Pringle fashion company. Lady Pringle was a mistress of the bedchamber to Queen Victoria in Balmoral and the couple came to the Isle of Wight when the Queen began to spend her summer holidays of Osborne House, on the opposite side of the island.
After the Second World War, the house was divided into five with Compton Undermount being the most substantial property. Today it is for sale and the vendor, Charmian Shenton – a retired architect — has done wonders in the 10 years she has lived there with her husband David, who died last year. They re-wired, re-plumbed and redecorated the house and more importantly re-built the substantial conservatory/winter garden, which was derelict when they bought the house.
‘The stone steps linking the two levels were still there and just a little of the original wrought iron supports, but that was all,’ she says. It’s now a third of the original length of almost 100 feet long, but just as awe inspiring. Mrs. Shenton has created a delightful paved garden following the original footprint and pattern of the old metal heating grills, which are still there.
However, the piece de resistance of the house is the fabulous drawing room with its 25 feet high ceiling. This has ornate plaster mouldings painted in deep pink, gold and blue with rows of hanging crystal globes and in the centre, a plaster medallion depicting the goddess Aurora, which the Shentons have restored. The rooms also has a linen-fold and carved oak dado panelling, cornicing with scrolls depicted lines from Psalms, a fine marble fireplace with impressive carved oak surround and two pairs of double carved oak doors, one of which is false- just there to give the room symmetry.
The remainder of the rooms are less imposing and on several different levels. In total there are four bedrooms, a large kitchen/sitting/dining room on the lower ground floor, two studies and an extensive attic. In around two acres, the property is for sale for £975,000 (Kingston & Grist, 01983 761005; www.kingstonandgrist.co.uk)